Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Suzuki DR Big

Wed, May 12th, 2010

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1988–99 Suzuki DR750/800S DR Big
In the '80s, thumpers larger than their traditional 500cc limit proliferated, and the DR Big took the trend to its extreme conclusion. In its original 750cc configuration (1988–89), it was the largest single-cylinder ever made, only to be trumped by its own 800cc in 1990, which has never been matched. This is largely because an 800cc thumper is, generally speaking, kind of a stupid concept. The DR Big's vibration was not as horrific as you'd imagine; not smooth, just reasonably tolerable. Torque was pretty good down low (as it should be), but the DR Big revved very slowly thanks to its coffee-can-sized piston.
The DR Big was supposed to compete with V-twin Paris-Dakar adventure bikes, yet be as small as a thumper. The formula didn't quite work. It was down on power compared to its twin-cylinder competition, yet so extremely top-heavy as to be completely unmanageable, even by reasonably skilled intermediate riders on smooth, paved roads. The situation was bad enough that a smaller fuel tank was fitted from 1991 on. Brakes are not up to the task.
The original 750 (shown) was pretty cool looking. Unfortunately, the colors and graphics typically got busier, sillier, and uglier each year, especially after the 1991 redesign.
There were no specific major problems with the DR Big, but I have to wonder what effect that huge 105mm bore and 90mm stroke have on the engine's useful lifespan.
The DR Big's 450+ lb. curb weight doesn't present a very good argument against twin-cylinder adventure bikes. And does anybody really need a 7-1/2 gallon fuel tank?
Kind of an intriguing novelty, a rare sight in the U.S., and an interesting historical footnote, but not a bike I would ever spend my hard-earned money for.
The DR Big is the dual-sport equivalent of the KZ1300: It existed only to be outrageous, and proved that too much really is too much.

TOMORROW: Hesketh V1000